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BY DON SCOTT

Defenseman Tyler Lewington scored his first two goals of the season, including the overtime game-winner, to give the Hershey Bears a 5-4 overtime victory over the Atlantic Division-leading Hartford Wolf Pack Saturday night at Giant Center.

The Bears moved within two points of Hartford for the division lead with the victory. 

Hershey took a 1-0 lead just 2:02 into the tilt when Beck Malenstyn took a feed from Kody Clark and beat Wolf Pack goaltender Adam Huska under the cross bar. Unfortunately before the period ended, Hartford scored three times against Pheonix Copley starting with Yegor Rykov’s first AHL goal at 10:18.

Steven Fogarty racked up his 10th goal of the season at 14:17 and Matt Beleskey scored at 16:44.

The Bears turned things around, this time needing just 30 seconds to cut the deficit to one when Garrett Pilon beat Huska on a short-side shot and Shane Gersich evened the score on a feed from Erik Burgdoerfer at 16:51. Shots after 40 minutes were a 24-17 Bears advantage. 

In the third period, Lewington scored his first goal following a great individual effort by Liam O’Brien. Losing his stick on the offensive zone entry, O’Brien kicked the puck with his skates into the end boards and continued to win a puck battle without his stick. O’Brien finally managed to kick it to Pilon who set up Lewington for a drive from the right face-off circle at 7:27. 

“It is funny how it was back-to-back for Beck (Malenstyn) and me because he was without a stick for a good 30 seconds or more then I lost mine, so it was interesting how that played out,” O’Brien said with a big smile. “A lot of us play the soccer game each night and I think that’s what helped us.

That second lead of the night for Hershey only lasted 90 seconds because Vitali Kravtsov answered for Hartford at 9:03 to tie the game at 4-4. 

In the overtime, it took Lewington less than a minute to fire the game-winner home. On a give-and-go play with Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Lewington unloaded a shot from the right circle for Hershey’s 24th win of the season. 

“This was a close one and I think we did a great job of coming back in the second period by getting that goal seconds into the period to start getting us back in the game,” O’Brien said. “We really needed the extra point because they are still ahead of us in the division plus we have some good teams chasing us and we were coming off the two losses in Charlotte this week. We knew we could play better than we did there so now we want to keep in going tomorrow.”

The victory improved the Bears record to 24-13-2-3 and snapped a two-game losing skid. Hershey returns to action Sunday at 5 p.m. when the Rochester Americans make their only visit this season to Giant Center.

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